On Leadership: Truth is Simpler



The truth always turns out to be simpler than you thought.

~ Richard Feynman

One of the books I refer to frequently in my coaching is Crucial Conversations by Joseph Grenny.  I recommend it for your axiom leadership library.

In the book Mr. Grenny discusses how we often hear, read, or see something and then “tell ourselves a story” about what it means.  The story we tell ourselves determines how we feel, which then drives how we act in response to what we heard, read or saw.

Stephen M.R. Covey teaches that we seem to judge others by their behavior and judge ourselves by our intent.  When that is the case, the story we tell ourselves generally is not favorable to the other party.  If the story we tell ourselves is negative or critical of the other person, then we tend to have feelings such as sadness, anger, fear, mistrust, or disappointment towards that person.  When this occurs the relationship of trust suffers and our leadership is weakened.

The moment of choice is between the stimulus and your response, right at the point you tell yourself the story.  To tell yourself correct stories, ensure you understand the facts behind what you hear, read, or see BEFORE you tell yourself a story. If the opportunity to learn the facts is not readily available, then tell yourself a DIFFERENT story than what might be natural.  Give the person the benefit of the doubt.  That usually keeps your emotions in check and allows you to approach sometimes tense situations with calm and clear leadership.  More often than not, as Mr. Feynman said, the truth always turns out to be simpler than you thought.

Choose positive and good stories.  It will make all the difference.



One thought on “On Leadership: Truth is Simpler

  1. Reblogged this on The Career Mentoring Project and commented:
    Another great post from Steven!

    The benefit of the doubt is a funny phrase. It implies you are ABLE to know the facts of what has happened in the past when you weren’t there. It implies you choose to suspend judgement of others actions or intentions of the past although you have some insight into what happened. Because you are unable to judge.

    But if you only speak to enough people then you will know what happened. Right?

    I would suggest that it’s very hard to know what has already happened. Sometimes even if we’re at the same company.

    People DO tell themselves stories that show themselves in the best light or make little of negative situations they didn’t take action to correct. Filtering through stories to find the truth is fraught with peril. Making judgements on half truths … People do that, think they know what happened and cause injury to parties who deserve better.

    Liars of all kinds survive by lying. Just remember that.

    Use care. It’s smart to be wise about listening to stories you have no way to verify. Even if several people tell the same story it doesn’t mean that is what happened.

    One or more parties may be constrained from speaking at all.

    People’s true colors show through. Just wait. Watch. See who to trust. See people in action and who is doing right.

    Make you judgements on today’s actions. Not yesterday’s stories which may just lead you to believe the most convincing lies you’ll ever hear.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s